Wednesday, January 9, 2019

44

Wow. Another birthday blog post - really? This year has actually zoomed by; can't believe January tenth has rolled around yet again! I wasn't sure this post would ever get written, but thanks to a series of fortunate and unfortunate events, I'm actually home in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, and have a few hours to sit at the computer. (Kids are sick, hubby's in meetings, work kids' grandparents are in town... )

I miss blogging - I didn't even get to write any advent reflections or my "inevitable new year's post". (not so inevitable, I guess 😏 ) So I'm grateful for the opportunity to pound out a few thoughts about the year that's gone and the one that's yet to come.

Ironically, I don't feel I have a lot to say. Funny how working full-time at the mercy of an employer (even a great one) leaves so little time for the contemplative life I would love to lead. One thing I've learned this year, though, is how to embrace my current reality while working towards my ideal one. I started my nannying job in February of last year; a desperate last resort so that bills could be paid every month, there would be food on the table for every meal and gas in the vehicles when we needed to drive them.

I'm happy to report that those goals are consistently being met - and then some. And it's not so bad. I have two little people who adore me (one who just started calling me Oy the other day ❤), my home family and work family who depend on me and appreciate me, and a weekly pay cheque that helps meets all of our needs and a few of our wants, too.

It's been tough on my inner life, however. Being out of the house and fully occupied for ten hours a day, five days a week leaves precious few waking hours for other pursuits. But I have come to see how very precious they are, and am learning to treat them as such. Several of those hours are already being dedicated to new clients in my fledgling counselling practice (which I hope to significantly expand starting in July when I say good-bye to nanny life). Others are spent in completing course readings and other requirements. I'm even leading worship somewhat regularly - my favourite and most life-giving use of this fleeting discretionary time.

I guess what I'm saying is that my life is full. And good! (And did I mention I lost seventy-five pounds this past year? Maybe once or twice 😉) I can say with all sincerity that forty-three has been, hands down, my very best year yet. And purely by the grace of God, I have every reason to believe that forty-four can be even better. Bring it on!

This is what (almost) forty-four looks like on me - I'll take it 😊
#thankful 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Better Together

It's a big day here at (the) real joy! About a year or so ago, God planted a tiny seed of an idea in my heart. It's been germinating and sprouting and growing along with me as I discover and explore who God has made me to be and what His call is on my life. I believe that today is the day to reveal it!

As I've been traveling this path of discovery and recovery and healing and growth over the past eight years, I've had the strong impression that the fruits of it all weren't just for me, for my own benefit and joy; that they were meant to be shared and multiplied. 

And so, with much careful planning, preparation and prayer, I'm launching a new venture. It's called "The Real You", a counselling practice in which I'm offering a fresh mix of traditional psychology, life coaching and spiritual guidance. My goal is to walk with you, helping you uncover and develop your true, authentic, best self. 

What might this look like? Each journey will be as unique as the person who walks it. We might delve into your past to examine your hurts, habits and hang-ups; replace old lies with new truths; challenge unhealthy thought patterns; look at how the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual work together for overall optimal fitness; establish goals and accountability... Each journey will be tailored to meet the needs and aspirations of the individual. We might travel together for a few weeks, several months, a year or more - flexible and specific is the name of the game. 

Here's the nitty-gritty: This service will be offered online via the (free) Zoom platform, making it possible to meet with pretty much anyone from anywhere - men, women and youth. In addition to weekly hour-long sessions, I will be available through email and text for extra discussion and support. The cost of this service is fifty dollars per session, payable through e-transfer. Sessions will be offered evenings and weekends at the availability of both parties. Our first meeting will be at no cost, and will be used to determine whether what I have to offer is what you're looking for. 

And what do I have to offer, exactly? Over the years, I've taken courses in psychology, life coaching and spiritual formation and leadership and have applied these in a variety of non-professional counselling relationships. I've also been on a very intentional journey of my own - that has included professional counselling - and have experienced breakthroughs and healing in many areas, including mental health, self-image, food addiction, marital issues, abuse, fear, trust, control and more. 

I really want to do my little bit to end the stigma that surrounds mental heath and counselling - especially in Christian circles. My heart's greatest desire is to take what I've learned and lived and use it to help others achieve breakthrough and recovery - AND peace and hope and joy and love and power and success and confidence and freedom! Who doesn't want that?! 

(If you think you or someone you love could benefit from what I'm offering, please contact me at joyefeltmate@gmail.com - it could be your first step in a life-changing journey!)


Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Renovations Continue (and a happy eighth birthday to the blog!)

Have you ever taken on a major renovation project? I can't say that I have, but as HGTV is the only channel I watch (well, ok - occasionally the food network, too 😊), I've observed a fair number of them. And invariably, just as things are trucking along, everything comes to a screeching halt as some unforeseen challenge arises: hidden water damage, cracked foundations, rotted floor joists... The homeowners despair as they are confronted with the bad news, and wonder why they ever took this project on in the first place. But in the end, usually after a significant investment of even more time and money, the problem is corrected and the home is more secure, efficient, durable and beautiful than ever before.

I lied when I said I'd never taken on a major renovation project... eight years ago, I began the serious and intense work of self-renovation. It started with the deeply disturbing and oddly liberating processes of self-awareness and self-revelation. I had no idea what I was getting myself into; prior to that point, I was moving right along, blissfully unaware of the mess that lay just below my cheerful, oblivious exterior. That I would unearth a severely cracked character, morbid motives, distorted childhood memories, rotten habits, carefully-concealed addictions, dysfunctional relationships and a diseased body and mind made me want to run screaming and bury my head in the sands of ignorance more than once.

Nevertheless, I persevered. Not without discouraging set-backs and looooong breaks, but the work continued. As I read back over the eight years of posts on this blog, I still recognize that lost little girl who was hopelessly addicted to food and approval, who desperately desired validation yet could see absolutely no reason to receive it. She's still there - there's a reason they call it "recovery".

But oh, the victories along the way!! And the beautiful individuals who came alongside to guide me through!! And downright miracles - so many miracles!! And more than anything, the lavish love of my Father that I was finally enabled to acknowledge and receive!! The journey has been more challenging than I could ever have imagined, but infinitely more rewarding and valuable, as well.

"Journey" is the right word, though. I used to believe that one day, I'd "arrive" - that there would be no more issues to work through, no more problems to solve, no more character flaws to tackle... and I will "arrive", but not on this side of eternity. My life has recently underscored this truth for me in some glaringly obvious ways.

Since I was healed from bipolar disorder in March of  2017 (you can read about that miracle here), my life has been vastly different and I've been able to do all sorts of things that were previously impossible for me; but that sneaking feeling that I had "arrived" began to creep in again. Thankfully (with just a wee bit of sarcasm here 😏), God has relieved me of that impression once again.

Three weeks ago, I attended my first weekly Celebrate Recovery meeting. CR is "a Christ-centered 12-step program designed to help us overcome any hurt, habit and hang-up". In those three weeks, I have again been confronted by my very worst self. It's been horrible.

On the other hand, though, it's been beautiful. A CR gathering is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Pretty much everyone there is or has been at the end of their rope; they frankly acknowledge that they are wounded and broken and are powerless to heal themselves. The worship times are raw and powerful; the teaching is authentic and practical; the small group sharing circles are heart-wrenching and real. Overwhelming? Yes, but exactly what my soul needs right now. (More about my discoveries in future posts, I'm sure.)

So... the last eight years have been... good. So thankful that "He's still workin' on me" 😊

(some hard, physical evidence of the ongoing renovations - 
indescribably grateful ❤)